A top U.S. lawmaker, Republican Sen. John Thune, has penned a letter to Apple with further questions about slowing older models of the iPhone via Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS.
Senator Thune, Chair of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, asked how Apple came to the conclusion to replace batteries for $29 or if the company ever considered making battery replacements free. He also questioned if Apple considered the idea of offering rebates to customers who had already paid full price for a replacement battery.
But Thune’s biggest concern seems to be transparency.
“However, even if Apple’s actions were indeed only intended to avoid unexpected shutdowns on older phones, the large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency with respect to these practices,” Sen. Thune wrote in the letter.
Reuters, which obtained a copy of the letter, reports that it asks Apple if the company notified customers of the throttling feature in software updates or if this feature was used in earlier models, such as the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5S.
This all started in December after users on Reddit complained of slowing iPhones and Primate Labs’ John Poole ran benchmark tests on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 over time, across various iOS updates. The test seemed to show that Apple was indeed slowing down older models, and Apple promptly responded with an apology and an explanation for why this was happening.
Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.
To be fair, Apple did release this feature publicly last year, announcing that they saw an 80 percent reduction in unexpected shutdowns by releasing a power management fix in iOS 10.2.1. However, it wasn’t entirely clear this power management feature would slow down older models of the iPhone with each update.
Reasons aside, Apple wasn’t completely transparent with users and is now dealing with the consequences. Senator Thune wants answers from Apple by January 23.